AMA strategic plan debuts at opening of Annual Meeting

Also at the first session of the House of Delegates, outgoing AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, highlights the Association’s accomplishments during the past year.

By Damon Adams — Posted June 16, 2012

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AMA Executive Vice President and CEO James L. Madara, MD, on June 16 presented a three-part strategic plan at the beginning of the AMA’s 161st Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Dr. Madara told the House of Delegates, the AMA’s policymaking body, that the five-year plan focuses on three areas:

  • Improving health outcomes. The AMA’s efforts will seek to demonstrate improvements in clinical and patient-reported outcomes, ensure health equity, and advance the safety and quality of health care, among other efforts, Dr. Madara said. To reach these goals, the Association will identify a focused set of outcomes, starting with two or three this year and then expanding the list. Impacting health outcomes can lead to greater patient satisfaction and reduce health care costs, he said.
  • Accelerating change in medical education. The AMA will work to reshape medical education to better align physician training with the needs of the health care system, he said. The Association’s work will include forming partnerships that create new methods of medical education. Attention will be focused on flexibility in medical education, such as allowing select students to reduce their education debt by combining the fourth year of training with the first year of residency.
  • Improving physician satisfaction by shaping payment and delivery models. The AMA will establish partnerships with individual doctors, integrated physician organizations and others to identify effective delivery models that provide both quality patient care and doctor satisfaction, Dr. Madara said. The AMA also will share this information to help physicians implement changes in their practices.

“No other organization has done more to shape health and health care in this country than our AMA,” Dr. Madara told more than 450 delegates gathered at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. “This is familiar territory to us. We know our AMA can do it. Working together, we can and will change the world for America’s patients and physicians — for the better — under physician leadership. That’s the plan. That’s our future.”

Dr. Madara said the AMA Board of Trustees charged senior management with developing a rolling plan that emphasizes focus and impact. His speech was the first full view of the strategic plan given to delegates, but a preview had been presented previously in conference calls with leaders of AMA councils and sections and executives at state medical and specialty societies. Dr. Madara added that the AMA is committed to strengthening all areas of what was described at the meeting as the “AMA Equation”: the House of Delegates; individual members; practice management tools; research and education; and advocacy.

Spotlighting AMA victories

After Dr. Madara described the AMA’s future direction, outgoing AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD, highlighted the Association’s accomplishments during the past year.

With the strategic plan, the AMA’s “impact will grow even greater in the years to come,” Dr. Carmel said. Looking back on his year as president, and echoing an element of the new plan, he underscored one triumph that stands out is the progress made in shaping new payment and delivery models.

Dr. Carmel said the Association’s advocacy led to improved rules for accountable care organizations, and that ACOs have become a viable option for many doctors.

The AMA also wrote congressional leaders to delay the switch to the ICD-10 code sets for billing physician services, Dr. Carmel said. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services responded by postponing ICD-10 implementation until November 2014 and making regulatory changes that save physicians time and money, he said.

He pointed to other AMA victories on behalf of doctors such as helping North Carolina, Oklahoma and Tennessee attain caps on noneconomic damages.

“Rest assured that the AMA has been fighting — and winning — on your behalf. So you can spend less time shuffling papers and more time caring for patients,” Dr. Carmel told delegates.

But he said physicians must continue fighting for changes such as eliminating the Medicare sustainable growth rate formula that helps determine physician pay. The SGR formula is set to cut pay rates by more than 30% starting in January 2013 if Congress does not stop the decrease.

With a U.S. Supreme Court decision looming on the Affordable Care Act, Dr. Carmel urged physicians to keep pushing for improvements to the health care system.

“If there’s one thing physicians have in common, whether we’re neurosurgeons or pediatricians, Republicans or Democrats, it’s the courage and the conviction to fight,” he said.

Delegates are scheduled to meet until June 20 to consider setting policy on more than 250 reports and resolutions. Among the topics to be discussed are drug shortages, obesity and nutrition, taxes on beverages, and screening for breast cancer.

During the opening session, Ardis D. Hoven, MD, an internal medicine and infectious diseases specialist in Lexington, Ky., was named AMA president-elect. She will serve as president after Colorado psychiatrist Jeremy A. Lazarus, MD, who will be inaugurated as AMA president on June 19 and serve for one year.

House Speaker Andrew W. Gurman, MD, and House Vice Speaker Susan R. Bailey, MD, were re-elected to their posts.

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